“If we read only this one passage, we would come to the conclusion that scripture is false,” says Dr. Gerry Breshears, Author and Professor of Theology at Western Seminary. “I’ve prayed for healing of people – and I’m an elder in my own church – and they have died.” James fits in the category of ‘wisdom literature,’ much like Proverbs. Wisdom books are not collections of promises, but rather are a statement about the best way to live and what to expect generally if you live that way.
“That doesn’t get us off the hook, because this says ‘the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well,’ and it sounds like more than wisdom literature.” The ‘prayer of faith’ seems to be a special gifting from God, rather than a kind of prayer we can learn how to pray and wield ourselves. “But as we know from scripture, God doesn’t always miraculously heal.”